Thursday, April 28, 2016

Fail, Fail, Fail, Success! (Ding-Ding-Ding)

"Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom." - General Patton

Within every success story there are failures and some more than others: Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, and oh..that light bulb guy named Edison.

After finally succeeding with the light bulb a reporter asked Thomas Edison, "How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?"
Edison's reply, "The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps."
Ahh, I love a good quick witty answer. Steps! Edison counted his failures as steps.

Oh, and what about that guy Michael Jordan? He failed, you ask?  With all of his success and basketball accolades and being crowned the greatest, Jordan admits failure. Most people don't realize Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team which led to him succeeding. Jordan readily admits, "I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeeded."

I recently watched the film Walt Before Disney, the story of the early years of Walt Disney from 1919-1928. I have always loved Disney movies as a kid and have quite the collection in my film library. There have been a few movies telling stories about Walt, but this film specifically touches base with all of his failures or should I say steps to laying the foundation of a mighty empire.

Walt Disney grew up on a farm and to distract himself from farm chores he would sketch farm animals on the sides of the barn, to which his father would scold him with, "You ain't gonna make a living that way son. So it's best you tend to your chores and quit that nonsense of being an artist."

After high school Walt continued his pursuit of animation and opened a studio in his barn. He gathered some friends who were into animation and Disney started a Laugh-O-Gram studio. This film really gives you insight in how cartoons were first developed, which made this an even more enjoyable story.

In this particular era, movie theaters were looking for cartoons to show before the feature film and Disney wanted access to that. He was desperate to succeed quickly and would carelessly sell his work to theaters only at cost, which means no profit, which also means no money to pay his staff or his bills. Walt would then go bankrupt, lose his staff to competition, and find himself homeless.

Disney sold his camera for a train ticket to California where he would still struggle while trying to get a job and get his work into the movie studios. One studio job led to another which in turn would open more doors for him to fulfill his dream.

Walt struggled mightily in those early years but never gave up on his dream, his vision, his desire.
All of his failures were steps just as Thomas Edison referred them as.

One of the most frequent Bible scriptures used by many within their struggles to succeed, comes from Philippians 4, "For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength."

Within this walk or adventure we call life, we all want to succeed at something. We all have dreams, goals and desires that we carry. But consider this within your adventure,

"Each failure is a strength or step to success. It all depends on you and the greater One who lives within you."


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Two Barry's and a Girl Falling From a Tree

When the world says give up, hope whispers,"Try it one more time."

Everyone needs a little hope every now and then, some more than others.

1. The great Chuck Berry, known for his guitar solos and showmanship with songs like
    Johnny Be Goode and Roll Over Beethoven, didn't exactly start out as one would imagine. In his youth Berry served in prison for 3 years from 1944-1947 for armed robbery. After getting out of prison he settled down to married life and worked in an auto plant. His big break in music came when he met blues legend Muddy Waters. While serving his sentence Chuck Berry sought  hope to be the founding father of his future. (one disclaimer to this story unfortunately: he did serve two more times in prison later in life)

2. The great romance singing legend Barry White, he of the bass baritone voice that ladies of all ages swooned to with songs like Can't Get Enough of Your Love Babe, also served time in prison as a youth for stealing. It was while in prison and hearing Elvis sing It's Now or Never that changed his course in life.

Having hope is better than no hope at all. In fact,

"Hope is believing in spite of the evidence, and then watching the evidence change."
- Jim Wallis, Sojourners

3.  I recently saw the film Miracles From Heaven, the true story of Anna Beam of Texas and stars Jennifer Garner. Anna was diagnosed at an early age with an intestinal disease that was incurable. Until faith stepped in.

Anna's mom Christy, played greatly by Garner, decides to take matters into her own hands when her daughter wasn't getting healed and God appeared silent to her prayers. You can tell Christy's demeanor and take charge personality just from this conversation with her husband:

"We need a solution and we need it now!" exclaims Christy

"And we'll get it." says her husband calmly.

"How?" she asks.

"By not losing our faith." he replies.

Like I said Christy is a take charge woman who wants everything now, but I do admire her willingness to do anything and everything she can to get her daughter well, which Christy does by taking her to a specialist 2,000 miles away.

While Christy and her daughter travel to Boston and make the decision to stay at the clinic there, Anna doesn't seem to be responding to all the treatment given to her and wants to just go back home on the farm to their family.

Christy brings Anna back home to Texas all the while Christy's faith in God diminishes. One day Anna's older sister coaxes Anna to come hang out outside, even talks Anna into climbing they're favorite tree.

An accident happens as Anna falls from the tree. I don't want to give away the entire story because I want to encourage you to see this film or read the book. But I will add in that Anna's falling from the tree put everything inside her body back into place and her intestinal disease was gone.

While Christy's faith was diminishing, her daughter Anna's never did. She held on to hope.

God proved that His timing was perfect timing in spite of what Christy saw. And that's the whole part of faith that we all struggle with at times. In Proverbs we're given the verse, A double minded man is unstable in all his ways, this is what happened to Anna's mom. She relinquished her faith to the evidence and she became unstable.

Remember, don't focus on the circumstance or struggle, focus on The Hope.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. - Hebrews 11:1


Friday, April 15, 2016

Significant Sticks

It is rare to see an image within nature that stays intact through rain, snow and wind, unless it is an unmovable object like a tree, plant, bush, or body of water. Three weeks ago on Good Friday, I encountered on an early morning walk the exact same image depicted in this photo to which I shot yesterday.

Here in Chicago we weathered through all kinds of crazy storms the last 3 weeks and yet this cross made of sticks is still intact. It is ironic that this is one memorial atop of another. It sits atop a memorial bench made out of a tree in memory of a gentleman who loved his walks in the woods.
On that somber day of remembering and reflecting, I never would have noticed the sticks made into a cross, but a gentleman that I passed on the trails at this particular spot pointed it out to me, and with his foreign accent would say, "Look! How significant for today."

Yes, it was the most perfect moment in probably the most unusual place and not something I was expecting but God has a way of making his point. I am intrigued to say the least at how this cross has yet to be moved from it's spot especially, like I said, with all the crazy weather we've had lately.

Suppose this apparent unmovable object symbolizes us standing firm in Christ no matter what storms we face?

And a great reminder of Christ's sacrifice for us.

Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me.

Christ died for our sins, just as the scripture said. He was buried, and He was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.
- 1 Corinthians 15:1, 3-4

May we always stand firm in the hope that lies before us.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Keepin' it Real

Jen, "What does it matter if some stranger looks on the internet and sees your bird do a trick?"

Adam, "Boy, could you not get it any less? We are living in a golden age of unearned fame. People achieve celebrity status from the most ridiculous reasons."

Jen, "Yes, and it's desperate and pathetic."

Adam, "And I want in on it!"

Adam, from an episode of the sitcom Rules of Engagement as he explains to his girlfriend Jen that he wants to video his cockatiel grabbing a peanut from his mouth.

Yes, we are living in a society where almost everyone wants unearned fame. And sometimes reaching for that can keep us from staying to true to who we really are. There is a world of competition out there and almost everyone is buying into it. Everything from video taping our pets doing stupid tricks, to taping a fierce tornado, to competing to see who can get the most FaceBook friends or Twitter followers, it's the world we live in today.

Perhaps Dr. Seuss foreknew of this dilemma years ago when he was teaching children,

"Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!"

As for being real, one of the greatest film scenes that involved no acting whatsoever, came from the 1967 movie Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. The final scene called for Katherine Hepburn to cry and she had no trouble expressing that because this was to be the ninth and final time Hepburn would appear in a film with her sidekick Spencer Tracy. Not only that, but Tracy's health was deteriorating rapidly throughout the making of this picture. Tracy died 17 days after filming the classic. And Katherine Hepburn? She would win an Oscar for her role in the film.

Being real and staying true to who I am plays an important role in my life. I prefer and enjoy the simple things in life and wish to remain uncompetitive in the search for unearned fame. Some of the
I Am's I choose to follow:

I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live. Galations 2:20

I am a new creation; the old has passed away. - 2 Corinthians 5:17

I am a new person created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. - Ephesians 4:24

I live and move and have my being in Christ. - Acts 17:28

There's no reason to try to achieve unearned fame or achieve elite status when you can choose to live an abundant life in Christ. In Christ you already have achieved elite status.

As for Adam and his bird trick? Jen got to video the cockatiel biting Adam's lip while grabbing for a peanut from Adam's mouth. And... the video reached 60,000 hits on YouTube!